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The Habs kicked off a regular three-game week by visiting Nashville on Tuesday and the red-hot Predators in a tilt between buyer and seller heading into Friday’s deadline. The Preds were putting their eight-game win streak on the line as they suddenly find themselves comfortably in a playoff spot albeit in a Wild Card position with the Kings. The Habs gave Jake Allen what could possibly be his last start as a Montreal Canadien while Nashville removed their players from the trade block and is actually considering adding by Friday.

On the ice, the Habs continued their recent strong play after overtime losses to both Florida and Tampa Bay in games where they likely deserved better. They did so by going toe to toe with the league’s hottest team and finally winning an overtime thriller 4-3 to snap the winning streak. 

Montreal’s Lines

Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Joshua Roy — Alex Newhook — Joel Armia
Brendan Gallagher — Jake Evans — Josh Anderson
Tanner Pearson — Rafael Harvey-Pinard — Jesse Ylonen 

Mike Matheson — Kaiden Guhle
Arber Xhekaj — David Savard
Jayden Struble — Jordan Harris 

Jake Allen 

10 Thoughts Recap

1) Both teams came out skating hard and applying pressure before Guhle lost an edge and was forced to trip Kiefer Sherwood. Nashville’s power play got some zone time, but Armia was especially efficient with his stick to ensure no scoring chances were had. 

2) The second half of the period started with a Slafkovsky brain cramp in the defensive zone which opened the door for the best scoring chances to date, but Allen was equal to the task and kept the game scoreless. Newhook then got a great shot from the high slot that rang off the post. 

3) With 4:36 to play, Nashville opened the scoring as Luke Evangelista beat Suzuki to the slot with speed before passing it through Matheson to Filip Forsberg who buried the shot into the empty net. After a good period of hockey from both teams, it was 1-0 on the scoreboard and 14-11 on the shot clock, both in favour of the Preds. 

4) The Predators came out stronger in the second period and the Habs were back on their heels. Anderson did not like this and challenged Luke Schenn to a fight four minutes into the period to try to spark his team. Schenn caught Anderson with some lefts and got the decision in the tilt as Anderson’s attempt to get the Habs going failed miserably as a minute later, the score was 2-0. Gustav Nyquist was the scorer after Nashville completed about three give-and-go’s in a row in the Montreal zone with young defenders Struble and Harris. 

5) Things went from bad to worse as on the next shift, Harris was called for holding sending Nashville to a second power play. The Preds got a ton of time, but Allen made it so the Habs survived a second Nashville advantage. 

6) At the halfway point of the period, the Canadiens finally came alive as the Suzuki line started skating, got the Habs’ first shots of the period, and were able to control a shift in the offensive zone long enough to draw a penalty and their first power play of the night. It was a good one for the Habs, but not one that could finish on the shots they chose to take. 

7) With 3:21 to play in the second, a strong shift by Evans allowed a play to stay in the offensive zone. Evans then won a puck battle before he found Gallagher in the high slot who sniped a beautiful one-timer to the top corner. Six seconds later, Savard dumped the puck in the offensive zone. The puck hit a stanchion on a tight angle to go into the empty net as Juuse Saros was out to intercept the dump-in. Just like that, the period ended 2-2 with the shots 21-21 to set up an intriguing third period. 

8) The first half of the third was quiet as both teams appeared afraid of making the mistake that would cost the game. At the half of the period, the shots were 5-4 for the period in favour of Montreal. With 7:41 to play, the Canadiens were doing a great job at containing Nashville’s top line. Ryan O’Reilly snuck out of the corner and beat Allen from a sharp angle on a shot that the Habs should not have given up but a shot that Allen should have stopped.  

9) Montreal would not go away though as Roy intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and was given far too much space as he used Schenn as a screen to beat Saros through the screen with five minutes left.  Soon after, former Hab Michael McCarron knocked down a puck with a high stick before he was able to put home the puck into an empty net. With three minutes to play, the Montreal challenge was successful which allowed the game to remain even. The Habs would get a power play to end regulation after an obvious too many men call, but they were unable to capitalize. 

10) However, 17 seconds into overtime and just after the penalty ended, Caufield became the passer after attacking the middle and attracting double coverage which opened Suzuki on the side of the net for a one-timer that beat Saros to win the game. 

HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars

1st Star – David Savard 

The fluky goal aside, Savard played a heavy game at both ends of the ice as he was instrumental on a few penalty kills, created some scoring chances with passes to high tips in the first period, and even got some stats with the goal on the dump-in. While this is unlikely to be nearing the end of his tenure in Montreal, it is worth mentioning that he does appear to be ending on a high note if ever a GM does send a crazy offer to Hughes. Savard should play in Thursday’s game even if a trade does end up happening. 

Stats: 1 goal, +3, 2 shots, 1 hit, 19:41 T.O.I. 

2nd Star – Jake Allen 

Was it or wasn’t it his last game in Montreal? The question is more about whether or not the market opens up on goaltenders than if Hughes wants to make the deal. For what it’s worth, I think he doesn’t get moved, and it’s irrelevant to the coverage of this game. On this night, Allen wasn’t the busiest, but he made key saves in key moments to be a key player for the Habs on this night. 

Stats: 25 saves on 28 shots, .896 save %, 2.99 GAA, 60:00 T.O.I. 

3rd Star – Alex Newhook 

They say that when a player is having a good game and “feeling it”, the puck finds a way onto that player’s stick and that appeared to be the case with Newhook on this night. He was all over the puck seemingly all night long. He was rewarded with offensive goose eggs, but he did hit a post moments before the Nashville opening goal. 

Stats: +1, 2 shots, 1 hit, 16:11 T.O.I.